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It probably has most to do with the fact that I don’t relate to Pluto as a character the way that I do Donald or Goofy. Pluto’s roles change often, such as the father role he plays in
Pluto’s Quin-puplets opposed to the roles he played in the Mickey shorts. Plus, he tends to repeat gags a great deal.
Take for instance the first part of this short. Fifi, who is now Mrs. Pluto, heads off to get some food for the family, while Pluto is left to mind the children. So he ends up trying to herd the five pups in very much the same way he did the chicks in
Mother Pluto. In fact, this short is similar to
Mother Pluto in that it puts Pluto in the parent role, only to see him fail spectacularly.
There are good gags in this short, though. When the children disappear into the basement of the nearby house, they slip and slide on some potatoes. Then, one of the pups pulls free an air hose from a nearby compressor, and the hose begins whipping around the room. This is what drives the rest of the short.
The air hose ends up knocking Pluto out, assisting nearby paint cans in spray painting the children, and generally wrecking the basement. Having the pups get sprayed different colors with different patterns because of junk in the basement is a very clever gag.
What I didn’t like was the way Pluto got knocked around and ended up with a jug of moonshine pouring down his throat. This is a similar gag that was used in
Alpine Climbers, when the St. Bernard poured the alcohol into Pluto to revive him. It just seemed unnecessary. Pluto was already in hot water because of the way the kids were getting in trouble. It seems like it would have been better to have him chasing the kids around but unable to prevent them from getting sprayed.
The ending is a little off, too. Fifi returns, but she sees the kids coming up from the basement and growls at them. It’s unclear if she’s just mad or if she doesn’t recognize them. Then, she really takes it out on Pluto. The short closes with Fifi in the doghouse growling, while Pluto and the children sleep in a nearby barrel. It seems just off to me. Is Fifi still mad while they’re fine with it? What is going on?
I thought Pluto’s Quin-puplets was good, but falls short of the standard set in the other shorts from 1937. Watching it the day after
The Old Mill was probably part of the problem. You could not see two different shorts if you tried.
The short begins, as they always do with a scene of domestic bliss;
Pluto and Fifi nuzzling away as they watch their five pups sleeping.
But when a passing shopper with a string of wieners hanging out of his
basket passes by, Pluto finds out just how henpecked he really is. Fifi
assumes the role of the hunter / gatherer which Pluto seems reluctant
to abdicate. But abdicate he does, under duress, and he is left with
the care of the five children. Now this might have been a simple job
for him, had not one of them rolled over and woke up; and then woken
up the rest of them.
As kids will do, they just want to go out and have fun and explore
the world a bit. Pluto, fearful of Fifi's wrath if the pups aren't exactly
where she left them when she gets back, tries every means at his disposal
to keep them in; pinning a few down with his paws, lassoing one with
his tail, and finally stretching out to grab a board and boarding up
the door of the doghouse. But the pups must have been reading "Huckleberry
Finn" as they discover a loose plank in the side of the house and make
their escape that way. Their exploration of the world eventually leads
them into an open basement of the house, where you wouldn't think they'd
be able to get into too much trouble. Boy, would you be wrong.
The problem was that someone had left a live compressed air hose
and, when one of the pups gets tangled up in it, he inadvertently pops
it off and it begins to swing wildly around the room, blowing the pups
this way and that and generally scaring them out of their wits. Meanwhile,
Pluto has been mindful of his duties. In searching for the pup, he hears
them yelping down in the basement and goes down to investigate. Heroic
Pluto takes the initiative; he grabs the hose in his teeth and attempts
to wrestle it down, but in doing so, he gets the air pressure in his
mouth, blowing up his cheeks and then his ears like a Macy's Parade
balloon. The pressure lets go and Pluto gets shot across the room, upending
a variety of paint cans.
And as if things couldn't get any more troublesome for him, he also
upends a jug of moonshine, which begins to empty right into poor Pluto.
Well, what the heck ... might as well enjoy it. The air hose continues
it's romp around the room, now aided and abetted by the spilt paint.
One pup gets a waffle treatment as a paint job, one gets stripes, one
gets polka dots. Earl Scheib couldn't have done the job any better or
faster. The other two pups just get the splash treatment as does Pluto
himself, who is as happy as can be ... hiccupping away. And the air
hose finally spends itself out.
But who did we forget? Ah, yes ... here comes Fifi back from her
shopping with the trail of wieners for supper. The pups hear her arrive
and come running, all sporting impressive new paint jobs. Fifi is aghast
- are these really her kids? Pluto attempts to run and greet her as
well, but it's difficult to get up the basement stairs when you're both
intoxicated and have paint cans stuck to your paws. Pluto gently smiles
and greets Fifi without a clue that anything has gone wrong. But as
any henpecked husband knows ... the blast from Fifi will be furious
You would think after all this that Pluto would have ended up in
the doghouse. But the doghouse this evening is reserved for Fifi by
herself, madly snapping and growling through the night, while Pluto
and the pups are banished, for the evening at least, to a nearby barrel,
where they peacefully sleep off their adventure.
I must admit though that my opinion of this short may be biased because of my own nostalgia. This is still the same cartoon I enjoyed as a kid and it really takes me back to a happy summer I spent as a 9 year old (when I first recorded the cartoon from TV). I won't bore you with all the details and memories that this cartoon stirs, but I'll never forget my little cousin dramatically and enthusiastically acting this cartoon out for me before I had a chance to watch it myself. I remember it so clearly it's astonishing now I think that this was around 16 years ago and now we're all adults!
This was probably the first cartoon to be released as a Pluto cartoon (again I'd like to see the original titles!), although there wasn't another until 1940.